DIY ornaments are one of my favorite things to make each year around the holidays.
The fact that you can completely switch up the look of your tree (or give an amazing homemade ornament gift to friends and family) is basically music to my ears, as cheesy as that might sound.
But let me back up a little bit and explain… Ornaments (both DIY and store-bought) are a source of family tradition for me (and many others I’m sure). When I was growing up, we would decorate the tree as a family every year…eventually I think it just became my mom and I doing the tree decorating, but still I loved it.
We always had crazy weird homemade ornaments to throw on the tree – some got prominent spots in the front, while others quickly made their way to the much-forgotten back of the tree. Haha.
But no matter where they were places, those DIY ornaments we had were an instant memory when they were taken out of the Christmas decoration box every year. So, the placement didn’t matter all that much. It was the memory that seemed significant.
That may feel a little deep for a DIY ornaments guide and I kind of agree with you, BUT it’s true! Those homemade ornaments are just kind of the best! Which is exactly why I wanted to put together the ultimate guide of Christmas DIY ornaments for you!
So, pull up a chair and maybe a pair of scissors, here are my absolute favorite homemade ornaments to make (with links to how to make them) AND a few reason why you should even care about making these holiday creations in the first place.
To make or not to make homemade ornaments?
Still not convinced that the homemade ornament route is the way to go? Here’s why I think otherwise:
First, it’s a family activity – Now that we’ve got a kid in the mix, I can see this being such a fun family tradition to make a huge batch of ornaments together OR maybe make the same kinds of ornaments every year to keep filling our tree up.
Hayes’s hands are a little too small for big projects like this, but if you’ve got older kids, I can see it being a lot of fun to include them and create new traditions.
Secondly, it’s unique and custom – Your tree lives in your house for a month. Why not make it custom to your space? Utilize the color scheme of your space and make it festive with a run of homemade ornaments. Might as well make your holiday decor match your everyday decor!
Last but not least, they make great gifts wrap toppers – Don’t have room on your tree for anymore ornaments? Gift them! Replace the bows in your gift wrapping kit for ornaments for an extra personal wrapping.
Still not convinced? Well maybe one of these ideas might entice you.
Types of DIY Ornaments
Over the years, I feel like I’ve tried it all when it comes to holiday DIY projects, so I know a few things about a handmade holiday. After years of experimenting and decorating my own tree, here are the different types of ornaments I’ve made:
- DIY paper ornaments
- Clay ornaments
- DIY glass ornament ideas (technically these were only embellished)
- Fabric ornaments
- Beaded ornaments
- Plaster / paper mâché ornaments
DIY Clay Ornaments
Clay is one of my favorite DIY materials, so of course I had to use it to make a few clay ornaments for the Christmas tree. It’s really an easy material to work with and the end results are so professional.
Clay ornaments make awesome holiday gifts for friends and family. And with just one $10 package of clay, you can make as many as 30 ornaments. Depending on the size of each ornament. If they’re really small and rolled out thinly, you could make even more than that with one package of clay.
There are lots of different brands of air dry clay that you can use for craft projects, like homemade ornaments. Personally, I like the brand DAS because it’s really affordable and easy to use.
What kinds of clay ornaments can you make?
These terracotta clay ornaments (above) are made of that same clay I recommended above, along with nail polish, and my trusty rainbow shaped cookie cutter. With this technique, it was easy to make a bunch of other shapes too, which were a little smaller and perfect for gifting.
I also made really cute clay mushrooms that I turned into ornaments, using a super basic air dry clay, like this one. If you check out the post, you’ll see that I made a TON of them. Really looking forward to putting them all on the tree this year. Also made some strawberry ornaments out of clay using a similar technique as the mushrooms.
Another clay you can use to create ornaments is polymer clay. It’s an affordable option and available in a wide range of colors. Polymer clays can be cured or hardened in the oven, making this type of clay another easy option for even the most beginner DIYer. There are so many things you can do with polymer clay and I put together several polymer clay techniques that you can use to make ornaments, jewelry, etc.
DIY Glass Ornaments
The most timeless and popular ornament is the glass ball ornament. I see these everywhere, year after year. I guess there’s just something about that classic look that so many people are drawn too. And honestly, I like it too.
BUT if you want to go beyond the classic look of a glass ball ornament, there are plenty of DIYable options.
These DIY line drawing glass ornaments are technically made from clear plastic not glass, but they look just like glass balls without the hassle. They’re shatterproof and easier to handle / not so delicate. All you need to make these face ornaments is a little paint and a permanent marker or paint pen.
Feeling inspired? Use those same materials and try this quick ornament idea. Honestly, there are so many ways to paint your glass ornaments – from doodles and simple line drawings, to painterly patterns and even custom monograms.
Check out my pattern ornaments post for some more DIY glass ornament ideas.
DIY Paper Ornaments
Paper ornaments are the easiest and least expensive to make. Most of us have at least a small stack of paper in the house that would work for a paper ornament project – whether it be printer paper, recycled magazines, paper grocery bags, or even junk mail.
And if you want to make something a little thicker, you can try scrap cardboard or even an old cereal box. There are lots of budget-friendly and/or free possibilities for DIY paper ornaments.
So what kinds of DIY paper ornaments can you make? Here’s some inspiration…
These painted totem ornaments are made of a thick yardstick paper, but if you don’t have cardstock, you can use any thickness of paper (and double up if necessary). This paper ornament idea would also work with junk mail (use the envelope), cereal boxes, and more.
Another paper ornament idea that I love is 3D balls. They’re so festive, especially when you have a large set to cover the entire tree. And you can customize these paper ball ornaments in so many different ways.
Paint the paper like I did for an artsy look. Keep all the pieces of paper the same color for a solid color ornament. Use different colors of paper for a technicolor ball or use scrap paper from magazines, wrapping paper, or greeting cards to create a unique set of pattern ball ornaments.
Last but not least on the paper ornament front are these 3D star ornaments. I made mine out of chipboard, BUT they really don’t need to be that thick.
Which means cereal boxes would be a great option to use for this one. Cut up the box, so it lays flat as one piece, then paint one side, let it dry, and cut out the star shapes to piece it together.
DIY Fabric Ornaments
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got drawers and drawers full of scrap fabric. It never ends, does it? So why not use the scraps that are lying around to make unique, one-of-a-kind ornaments made of fabric?
Christmas ornaments are the perfect use for scrap pieces of fabric since they’re usually pretty small. You can almost always use pieces of fabric you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reuse, based on the size alone.
Take these DIY star and moon ornaments (above) for example. It’s just 2 pieces of fabric cut and sewn together in the star or moon shape.
I even created a template for each shape, to make it easy. So all you have to do is print, cut, stuff, and sew. Head over to my fabric ornaments DIY for the free template and tutorial.
Not into the celestial ornament idea? No worries. What about something for color-lovers? Maybe in the velvet department?! These color blocked DIY velvet ornaments are cute and bring a lot of color to your tree.
Plus, the soft velvet is a nice contrast to those spikes Christmas tree branches.
Would you consider leather a fabric? It’s certainly in the textile category? So it seems like fair game to me. These DIY statement tassels would be awesome ornaments with just a couple of modifications.
Mainly just scaling down the size. What do you think? They’re made from leather and wood, so it would certainly be an unexpected ornament option. AND they double as the perfect gift topper.
Even More Homemade Ornament Ideas
Just for fun, I’ve rounded up some additional DIY ornaments from around the web (and from me as well) to get you excited about making your own holiday decor / Christmas ornaments.
1. Want something a little different? What about my unique tassel ornaments made of wood and leather?
2. Every year I stare at these DIY indigo marble ornaments from Alice and Lois. They’re so, so pretty.
3. I feel like kids could easily get into making clothespin people ornaments, like these from The House That Lars Built. What do you think?
4. I found these wooden ornaments to paint and lee how they turned out. It’s a fun project to try with kids too.
5. Hand painted ornaments are always an easy option.
6. These contrasting paper ornaments are dip dyed with a modern feel. dip-dyed paper ornaments project
7. Want to go the fabric ornaments route? Try these color blocked velvet ornaments and you can mix and match to colors and shapes that suit your personality. Or the person you’re gifting too.
9. Or keep things classic with these golden star ornaments from The Sweetest Occasion. I bet the gold leaf looks really pretty against tree greenery.
10. This cinnamon himmeli ornament from Jojotastic has a homemade meets modern vibe.
11. Try a set of jingle bells ombre holiday ornaments to make an impact.
12. And one more star ornament idea, but this time with beads. I love how these turned out. Super simple and charming.
What About a Holiday Garland?
If you’re in the DIY groove, keep the momentum going with more holiday tree decorating DIYs. Holiday garlands are another great craft project for the Christmas tree and I have a handful of DIY ideas that might spark your interest, just in case.
Like the Oversized Wood Block Garland DIY in the photo above. I love the pops of color and the modern shapes that give a little twist on a traditional idea. It may be difficult to tell from the photo, but these blocks are actually pretty good size too! Would make a great statement on any size tree…or draped across a fireplace mantle.
Or if you’re looking for something SUPER easy that won’t take much time to make, check out this knotted DIY rope garland. It can be made with any thick rope and requires no crafting skills whatsoever.
Want some sparkle? This holographic garland DIY is just what you need. I originally made this garland for a New Years Eve photo backdrop, but I think it would look really nice wrapped around a tree. Especially with some lights reflecting off of it. So shiny! AND you can reuse it after the holidays for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
So there you have it. Quite a lot to digest, but if you love a homemade holiday as much as I do, then you’re in the right place.
Do you like decorating your tree with DIY ornaments? Or is it mostly purchased ornaments? OR a mixture of both?!